Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, yesterday clarified that the federation did not pay for the chartered flight, which convened the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, and the football body’s officials to Yaoundé for the final of the just concluded 10th African Women Nations Cup between the Super Falcons and Lionesses of Cameroon.
The minister and Amaju, as well as officials, including NFF’s First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, Christopher Green, Emmanuel Ikpeme, Shehu Dikko, Nneka Anibeze, Harry Iwuala and Harry Awurumibe, among others, flew into Yaoundé just before the final game of the competition on Saturday.
Before their arrival, there were talks in the Super Falcons’ camp that the minister and NFF top shots would come and address the team, especially on issues concerning their camp allowances, winning bonuses and the coaches’ nine months salaries would be settled. Their expectations heightened when the host nation dangled 22 million CFA (about N20 million) on the Lionesses to beat Nigeria in the final game.
The Guardian learnt that the chartered flight arrived in Yaoundé at about 11.00am, but instead of heading to the Falcons’ hotel as expected, the entourage decided to stay at the airport. “We were waiting for them to come and address us in the hotel,” one of the players told The Guardian. “They actually arrived in Yaoundé early but we learnt they decided to stay back at the airport till mid day. They knew we will be going to the stadium at 1.40 pm for the match. We saw their entourage just when we were approaching the stadium gate. So when we won the cup, we expected them to come and address us either in our dressing room at the stadium or in our hotel. But we were shocked to hear they left for the airport immediately after the game.
“That is not even the main issue. How come they were able to quickly raise over N42 million to charter a flight just to watch the final in Cameroon when the same people could not raise money to pay nine months salaries for the coaches, camp allowances and winning bonuses for players and officials? I want Nigerians to help us ask the sports minister and the NFF this question,” the player said.
But the NFF boss, Pinnick told The Guardian yesterday that no payment was made for the chartered flight, adding that it was through his private arrangement.
He said in an SMS that: “Neither the Ministry nor the NFF paid for that flight. It was my private arrangement.”